Apr 302009

Man United 1 (O’Shea 19) Arsenal 0
(Champions League Semi Final)

The only thing any Arsenal fan can feel this morning is relief that, against all odds, we are somehow still in the Champions League. On the balance of last night’s first leg, the semi final tie should be comprehensively beyond our reach.

It wasn’t just that we played badly (we did), it has to be said that United were superb. They played at a tempo that seemed to surprise us, as if we were expecting a cagey affair, and tactically they were perfectly set up to nullify our attack – with Fletcher, Anderson and Carrick outnumbering us in central midfield, the only way was around, and crosses were either blocked or dealt with comfortably by Ferdinand and Vidic.

Up front, Adebayor cut a lonely figure, and his isolation seemed to take away his motivation, so easily was he brushed off the ball all night. Meanwhile Cesc, playing in the advanced midfield role he is less suited to, struggled to get into the game while Nasri, behind him, mopped up well but was too far removed to be a creative influence.

The goal itself was a horrible one to concede, everyone being sucked to the near post from a corner, and three players being left unmarked at the back stick, O’Shea firing home. Gibbs, on the line, could do nothing.

The youngster, along with the rest of defence, actually did very well for the rest of the night. Gibbs had a tough ask, being assigned to mark Ronaldo out of the game, and Rooney when they switched wings. Ronaldo’s frustration was evident with a trademark second half dive. But the man of the match from our point of view has to be Almunia, who made great saves from Tevez just before the goal, Ronaldo afterwards, and a few others that single handedly kept us alive.

Even some of the maligned individuals were doing well. Silvestre showed his experience to spot danger and had a good night, Song is growing into his role, while Sagna looked better than he did against Chelsea. But going forward, we offered nothing, bar a tame Cesc shot and a late Bendtner header that could’ve given us the least deserved away goal in history. Walcott had no service and got no change out of Evra.

United had plenty of chances – Giggs had a goal disallowed for a very close offside, while Ronaldo thumped the bar with one of his specials. To be frank, 2-0 wouldn’t even do justice to their dominance, 3-0 would have been fairer.

But it is a credit to our doggedness (and yes, to our luck), that the deficit is only one. Can United play as well again in the second leg, and can we be as toothless? You would hope not. The news that Ferdinand may miss the second leg is huge – United are weakened dramatically when either he or Vidic is missing, so dominant are they as a partnership.

In five days time, our season gets defined. We cannot play like we did last night, we have to have a real go at them. If we’re going out, let’s go our fighting, but with more luck like that we enjoyed last night, we may yet reach the final.

Who knows?

  2 Responses to “Tie remarkably still open after one sided first leg”

  1. People, watch the match again as I have. You will see that a part from the first half, where we were really at sea, the second half was better.
    In fact, had we held out the first half hour, i believe we might have gone on to win.
    Remember the Liverpool game, Loserpool was so dorminant, but our lead really put them off a bit. If we had got the same lead, ManUre would have gone on to lose.
    Can we play better and score at least 2 goals? Yes, I believe so. However Can we keep a tight ship, I highly doubt it.

  2. After yesterday night i understood what I never wanted to see.
    Arsenal as brilliant may be on the pitch is too young in the sense that “mighty” Wenger sold all his experienced player,
    think about the ball possession yesterday. Who was able to hold the ball in midfield ???????????????????????????
    MU in the contrary is a team based and mixed with less risk, without regarding the spendings, as Ferguson kept his old talentuous players such as Scholes and Giggs mixed with young talent.
    Look what Arshavin has brought to our attacking midfield: not only solutions but Ideas of how to build an attack, what youngs don’t discover unless they play near an old pal who’s got his own tricks !?!?!?
    We need to buy in defense to get a tall and solid central defender
    We need to buy a proper holding midfielder, only one in Song is not enough for an entire season
    We also need a couple of big imposing player because we suffer too much with short sized, gifted yes, but short sized player when it comes to physical impact: in Midfield and in Defense!!!

    The other thing which is now sure is that I don’t want Adebayor to be part of this team anymore!
    Why? Well we need a new striker who is playing with the love of the game and the commitment to his club, something Ade is far from having a bit!
    The main issue comes from the fact that nobody would have ever bet on him when he was playing in France, and Wenger gifted as he is to boost the talent and mental strength of his players didn’t see coming that Adebayor is a talent in search of Glory, Money, Bling-Bling and everything that comes along with that crap which is NOT Football!
    He’ll never be fighting as last year unless there’s a carrot at the other end and this one has to be money!!!
    We need something else up front to provide solutions and to partner Van Persie who plays with passion!

    But, there’s a but which is that Almunia has turned in a huge world-class goal-keeper.
    Manuel Almunia You are the best, the best, the best!

    Even if we go through these semis I’ll maintain Arsene has to buy a little of experience in a world-class winger or striker
    another holding midfielder such as Cana (OM), Xabi Alonso, Veloso or Barry
    and a central defender…..

    Gooners know Arsenal can do it, but the right formula has to be found as we lack what I just mentioned above.
    Be proud and Be Goonerish


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